Turnbull accuses Labor of "pork barrelling"

A newspaper report has stated 59 per cent of suburbs to begin NBN construction this year and the next are in Labor electorates

Malcolm Turnbull has accused the Labor party of “pork barrelling” in its rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Turnbull, shadow minister for communications and broadband, made the comments in response to a report in The Australian yesterday which revealed 59 per cent of suburbs scheduled for construction of the NBN this year and 2013 are in Labor electorates. This compares to only 35 per cent in Coalition electorates.

“This suggests the NBN will reach almost twice as many households in Labor-held areas as in Coalition-held areas between now and the next election, even though the Coalition holds 73 seats in the House of Representatives and Labor only 72,” Turnbull said in a statement.

“The Coalition does not believe broadband investment should favour either Labor or Liberal seats. It should prioritize [sic] areas that are in most urgent need of better connectivity. But NBN Co stated it was unable to even identify specific geographic areas with sub-standard broadband when questioned at [the] Senate Estimates [hearing] on 24 May.

“This leaves Senator Conroy with one question to answer: why is it that the rollout has such a skew to Labor-held areas?”

The newspaper report quoted Andrew Sholl, NBN Co spokesperson, as stating electorate maps were not reviewed when the NBN rollout was being planned.

Instead, rollout locations were based on points of interconnect (PoI) chosen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, according to a spokesperson for Stephen Conroy, minister for broadband, communications and the digital environment.

The report also stated one of the largest discrepancies was in New South Wales and Victoria, where 82 per cent of suburbs to begin NBN construction in 2012 and 2013 were in Labor electorates. However, it stated in Queensland and South Australia, Labor electorates accounted for only 53 per cent.

“Labor’s $50 billion National Broadband Network may have been devised on the back of a beer coaster, but its rollout appears to have been planned on a whiteboard in Stephen Conroy’s office,” Turnbull said.

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I live in one of the electorates that will be getting the NBN starting in the next 12 months and that is also Labor. I for one are extremely happy that it is coming my way. I moved into a new house just over two years ago and was shocked when I found out I couldn't get ADSL. I needed internet access for my high school children and paid through the nose and every other orrifice for wireless, which was slow due to poor coverage and overcrowding (Telstra). Eventually I got what is sold to me as ADSL 2+ but because of the way the copper network has been laid, I get about 3000kbs which is less than half ADSL1 speed. My wife is doing business with companies based in England and China and it involves large graphics files which chew up what little bandwith I have. I for one are all for the NBN and given recent comments about the poor performance of FTTN in the UK, i think the government is on a winner with the NBN. I voted for Turnbull's party at the last election but my vote may change because the opposition wants to roll it back. Particularly after the opposition (when they were in government) failed to ensure that Telstra as the designated base infrastructure provider, ensured that the network being installed in new housing estates etc would be able to provide wired broadband and not use it as a mechanism to migrate people onto their mobile network.



I believe the NBN engineers. They are looking for the most efficient installation. However IF Conroy was porkbarrelling, it would be poetic justice that IF the Coalition get in, that at least the Labour NBN supporters would have it while Malcolm will have to explain to the Coalition areas why they have to put up with FTTN or worse still Coax that neither Telstra nor Optus wish to support.



I believe the NBN engineers too. Despite overheated claims to the contrary that the rollout program is political, it seems the work schedule so far is based on good engineering practice rather than bad politics.

But it does seem strange that politicians whose leader has vowed to destroy NBN are the most vocal about it not coming immediately to their electorates.

Abel Adamski


Hi gnome, did you read that item
And now for some factual exposure of hypocrisy. The whole item and comments is a good read if time consuming.


Our HFC designed for Cable TV telephony and isdn grade bband in the early 90's. Upgrade and extend very expensive , node density will need to be tripled and each node is fed by a fibre. More than likely cheapest option will be to replace the core infrastructure, why?. Just to benefit Foxtel and Sky News Channel.

Consider my last couple of comments

MT, I thought better of you

Abel Adamski


The report was by guess who - The Australian



What I continue to find amusing about the 3 year rollout announced in March is that work in places like Westen ACT & Hoppers Crossing, VIC is not due to commence until September 2015 and services are predicted to be available around September 2016.

Of the 3.5 million premises to be connected, if we assume that that the roll-out reaches peak speed in 2015, then 1.5 million premises included in the plan will be able to active services only after June 2015.



Mathew, if you are going to entertain us with your amusing non sequiturs about anything to do with NBN, you might at least learn how to spell Weston.

And some people don't seem to have realised that NBN is a very large national project that will take years to complete.



Turnbull could not look more silly if he tried. Claiming how FTTP is unnecessary and overkill, yet still trying to gain access to it for the liberal electorates. On the other hand, he is not the first liberal to be pushing this barrow.

Maybe NBN should rollout to Labor electorates first. That would provide an even stronger incentive for the Liberal party to complete the project if they win the next election. I wonder how FTTN would go down then, when a good chunk of Labor electorates have fibre.

Abel Adamski


Agreed, any councils or communities that do no wish to be included should be bypassed for attention at the end , instead focus on those who voted for it.
The punters don't realise the current model costs the Taxpayer NOTHING over time for a National asset. The coalition patchwork dogs breakfast is based on a massive taxpayer handout not only upfront but in continuing massive subsidies for assets that are owned and operated by private companies with great doubts as to whether the wildly variable services could actually be cheaper to the mug customer.. A horrendous waste of massive amounts of Taxpayer monies

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